Island Food Hubs - Together for Food

Mount Waddington


The Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative connects community agencies, institutions and volunteers to facilitate partnerships and community action to support a healthy food system across the Mount Waddington Region. Under the leadership of Leslie Dyck, and in partnership with North Island College Mixalakwila Campus, the Initiative is guided by a food security needs assessment and food action framework that provides a basis for identifying community priorities for a healthy food system. Since its inception the initiative has been a catalyst for community food action in the region helping to garner community support and funding for many initiatives including:

  • Learning and skill building initiatives (eg. School food initiatives, ProD workshops for teachers, farm skills workshops for growers, and community workshops related to local urban agriculture bylaws) and;
  • Farmers markets development initiatives.

Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative has also been working to share the North Island voice and bring home key learnings from province wide and island wide events such as the BC Food System gathering, Healthy Communities Conference (Parksville), and the annual Vancouver Island Food Connections gatherings. Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the hub has been significantly involved with emergency food distribution; this work is shared between many organizations.

The Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative is grateful to serve on the traditional, unceded territory of the Kwawaka’wakw peoples.

Leslie Dyck

Hub Lead: Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative

Leslie Dyck is the lead for the Mount Waddington Community Food Initiative. From Woss to Winter Harbour, Leslie is deeply involved in partnership projects with communities on the North Island helping enable initiatives that support food access and food literacy in this rural region. You may find Leslie running a local networking meeting, hosting a zoom cooking class, vending at a farmers’ market, or organizing a bulk food delivery to remote North Island Communities.

Leslie is owner/operator of a small farm that specializes in microgreens. She is also coordinator of the Mount Waddington Literacy Society, Mount Waddington Neighbourhood Small Grants Program, and the Nanaimo Loaves and Fishes, north Island food depots. Leslie also serves on the board of the North Island Farmers and Artisans Market, the MW Health Network, and is chair of the District Parent Advisory Committee.

Jessie Newman

Jessie is from the Gak’yaals Kiigaway (clan) of K’uuna (Skedans) and a member of the Haida Nation. She is Haida on her maternal side and Heiltsuk and Kwakwaka’wakw on her paternal side. She grew up in Hlgaagilda (Skidegate) and W̓áláqvḷa (Bella Bella), and comes from two fishing families. She was fortunate to have access to many of her ancestral foods in her youth and has always loved how they bring family and community together.

Jessie completed her Dietetics degree from UBC in 2015 and currently holds the position of Indigenous Health Dietitian with Island Health, working with North Island communities towards achieving their wellness goals. This includes supporting Nations in their food sovereignty/security initiatives, as well as diabetes prevention and management. She also supports the work of the North Island food hubs by participating in food roundtables and creating space for meaningful collaboration with local Indigenous communities. Jessie also serves on the board of LUSH Valley Food Action Society.

From an early age Jessie understood the healing power of our foods, and feels fortunate that “work” allows continual learning and guidance from community knowledge keepers.

Kimberley Toonders

Kimberley is a Registered Dietitian working with Island Health’s Public Health team. She acknowledges she is a white settler with mixed European ancestry. Her roots are in Grande Prairie, Alberta, where her great grandparents established farms. Kim lives and works on the traditional, unceded territory of the Liǧʷiɫdax̌ʷ First Nations: the Wei Wai Kum, We Wai Kai and Kwiakah First Nations. She is grateful to call these beautiful, bountiful lands her home. She has much respect for the rich history of Indigenous connection to and stewardship of these lands and acknowledge the continued role of Indigenous peoples as leaders in food sovereignty and environmental stewardship.

Kim’s office is in Campbell River and she works with child, youth and family programs and schools throughout the North Island, with the Comox Valley as the Southern boundary. Kimberley supports the work of the food hubs in the North Island as a member of the Comox Valley Food Policy Council and the Strathcona Food Security Coalition, and also regularly attends the Strathcona Food Network meetings. She is the co-chair of the Strathcona Community Health Network (SCHN), which has identified food security as a key strategic initiative. The SCHN has played an important role in hosting food security conversations, encouraging collaboration and obtaining project funding. Kimberley is also a member of the steering committees for the Sayward and Gold River Children’s Health Hubs.

Community Partners